Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Playah Playah!

If you were to walk into the grocery store anytime this summer, this is a snippet of what you'd hear:

high ones


"Ugruk hunting...softball...caribou crossing...softball..."

"Softball...fires...ugruk hunting...softball..."
(Ugruk = Bearded Seal)

Oh, and I almost forgot, "Softball!"


Because our summer is so short, we cram in as many outdoor games as we can. Our fields are gravel piled on top of the old dump site where all the old vehicles went. So, no metal detector would work there.


Everyone plays in our family. Myself, Dean, Jake, Koy, Maddie, Max and Kaisa, my sister, her boyfriend, my niece, etc. Coincidentally, we all play on different teams.

Here's what our "Lukin Family Schedule" looks like for the beginning of July:

Lukin Schedule
Alu is Kaisa, that's what we call her, short for her Eskimo name. (UH-loo)
(Yes, my kids all do chores. If they didn't do chores, our house would be in shambles. And I would quit my job to stay at home and do them for them. But I have to work. So we all have to do chores at the house!)

Yes, that makes for a LONG day at the field. But, we like to be outdoors and well, we pretty much don't have a lot of rain until August, so we enjoy our 9:00 p.m. games in full sunshine and mosquitoes.

first base

Kaisa plays on the "AC Cardinals." Technically, she's not old enough to play, but our league doesn't turn anyone away. If they think the child is ready to play in the 8-12 yr old bracket, they do. So, my seven year old plays with her cousins and friends and against her brother and sister.

makig it home

Since her first game on Tuesday, I have since hemmed up her shirt and freezer paper stenciled the kids names on the backs of their jerseys. Johnson, Lukin, Lukin and Kotch. Cause we can't just agree on one.


I like to watch the kids games because they are much more relaxed and fun. The coaches do an amazing job of getting and keeping the kids interested in the game. They don't discourage and even when your child is sitting on the ground in right field, they still just laugh it off and say, "Kaisa, be ready!"

right field

If anyone's looking for us, we'll be at the field!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


So, I've been meaning to write this blog for some time. Ever since I found the mallards back near our house and people were out seagull egg hunting for the salty sea-tasting flesh of the hard boiled eggs we grew up with.

koy and kaisa eating marsh

Many things have happened since I thought about this post. Probably because I had already thought about it and now noticed the small-town-ish-ness of Kotzebue and my mental being was already writing it in my head.

So, I get plenty of questions from people who read this blog. Locals who want to know where the Caribou are, State Troopers investigating claims that me or my husband do things illegally (yes, I know who you are...), whether we live in igloos, and why I live still live here.

I recently read a book about an Amish family. Throughout the entire book I was drawn to the fact that they are so similar to the Inupiaq people. Simple, not a lot of Hoo-haw, and pretty much content on how they've been taught for thousands of years. They took it upon themselves to stay Simple. Plain.


Yesterday one of the camps up river caught fire in the main house and according to the BLM, the fire spread about 100 acres from that point toward the valley. Smoke jumpers from Galena were dispatched, but even before that, our town and the people who have camps on the river stopped what they were doing, and rushed out there. Never mind that gas costs us $6.70 a gallon and it would be probably $100 to go out there. Never mind that they had family commitments, work commitments, and the such. They went out there with hoses, buckets and pumps to try to save the camp and the land behind it.

Because that's what we do.

I attended a funeral on Saturday in Buckland and the entire region was mourning the passing. Everyone who was physically capable of going to the funeral went. Regardless of money, or time off, or family. Or political commitments.

boys in bkc

Dean has been reading several historical books and periodicals about the Kobuk River Valley and even then, sixty years ago, one of the books states, "when someone dies, everyone in the village stops. Helps the family. They don't stop working for the family until well past the burial."

My grandfather gave that to my mom, through his actions when a community member passed. My mom showed me, and I am showing my children. When we plan something and I tell them that someone passed away, they know why I am at work long hours into the night. They understand. They want to help too.

When someone's house burns down, we stop what we're doing and helps that family. Donations from villages come of clothing, household supplies, furniture, etc. We look into our homes and see what they need and give it to them.


When kids have nothing to do on the weekends, we as parents gather together for impromptu softball tournaments, basketball games, ice fishing trips, hunting trips, sewing nights, dances, etc.

When elders have no meat, we give them what we have, because we are able bodied and can go and get more. Or if we can't get more at that time, we can at least afford to purchase some from the grocery store.

When community events go on, no child is turned away because of age or grade. When the rules are age 8-15, its really more like, age, whoever-can-come-and-have-fun-with-us. (Like Kaisa, who had her first softball game last night and was welcomed to the team, even though she's technically too young to play.)


When I didn't work for three months because of illness, my friends, my friends friends and their friends I didn't know came to my house to keep it going. Cooking, cleaning, taking photos of my kids at school, helping with homework, and giving us money to pay for bills. Some people I didn't even know.

When there is a child missing, our entire town stops working, goes home, and checks our homes, the homes around us and question our children about the whereabouts.

When my children are gone for two weeks of summer vacation/visits/camping, we still have three or four kids at our house at any given time, jumping on the trampoline, eating our food, playing with our kids toys.


And just like the ducks who migrate home every year to have their families, I always migrated back home to be with my family. Because no were I've ever lived has been like this. Orlando, Winter Park, La Grande, Anchorage, there is no such thing as a community in a big city. You'll never find what we have up here, down there. Sure, you may have a great circle of friends, or great church group. But no where in the world will you find a place like our region. Diverse in it's ethnicity, languages, colors, jobs, etc. But all family. Family who sometimes hate each other, but as soon as something happens, its water under the bridge, and we rebuild those relationships because we all come from the same place. A place where everyone helps everyone.

And I wouldn't have it any other way!

Jeremiah Berlin and Brysen Lee. A couple of normal teenaged boys singing, playing the guitar and piano. Except that Jerry is blind and Ray Charles has nothing on him. :)

*While the family was burying their father/grandfather/husband, we stayed in the gym to clean up. The most awesome sound came out of a corner of the gym, so we all stopped and stared. It was our own heaven right there.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand ______.

You fill in the blank.






Maybe in this case...Dollars!


So, as you can see, Cathy does NOT like Putuguqsiiaqs (put-oo-gook-see-ucks). They're some sort of weird ocean thing. Loosely translated from Inupiaq it pretty much means "Big Toe Sucker." (yes, they bite you!) After Morgan picked it up by the spiked tail, we threw it into the fire, cause what else do Eskimo's do, but try to eat whatever they find.

Zeanna says it tastes like burnt charcoal!

We can't really find too much information on the things. I actually employed the help of Cathy this morning so we could find them for you all. So, here is the BEST link I could find. We googled "Arctic Marie Isopod" and "Marine Isopod" but the link is the only thing we could find that looks EXACTLY like ours...only the ones that are swimming around while our kids are in the ocean are only like three inches long.


But that doesn't stop Cathy and Jessa from screaming when they see them!

jessa grtossed

*Note: The species we have is Saduria Entomon, go ahead Google it...I know I did. Ick!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Sundaes

Just a quick note to compare your life with ours cause pretty much everything I have to blog about is top secret information and I'm dying to tell someone, but I can't cause that would mean I'd have to hire Jason Bourne to track you down and kill you all. Sigh. So you'll have to settle for this:

sundae stuff

The girls went to bed at 3 am when the sun was at its brightest.

I went to church, then we all cleaned up when the sun was at its brightest.


We went to the beach when the sun was at its brightest.

We left the beach when the sun was at its brightest.

We ate sundaes, and guess what. It's still sunny.

kids eating

The sun won't set until sometime next month, and when its sunny out, its SUNNY out. We go to bed when it looks like noon. We wake up and it hasn't changed. Oh, wait, the shadows change.

Anyway, its sunny. It's Sunday. It's time for Sundaes.


We must love our kids, cause yes...this is what it cost for ice cream, whipped cream, hot fudge, and a stack of bananas.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shirred Genius!

*please forgive the iPhone photos! It's all I had!

So, last night in my sewing frenzy, (Sidenote: WHY do I want to sew during 80 degree days? I mean, I could be outside at midnight getting a tan. UGH.) I decided that I'd try the Shirring technique for this dress from Made (my new favorite blog...besides Noodlehead.)


Ok, I've been sewing for many, MANY years. And pretty much I can sew whatever is in front of me with good direction. The pattern from Made is great, and VERY specific, very detailed and has photos for every step of the way. But I still had a hard time shirring. I mean, after several attempts, I just figured this was my first try and I should be happy with the results.

Kaisa dress

The dress is awesome. A green paisley fabric from somewhere (probably JoAnn's clearance) and some swirly green and white trim perfect for these dusty brown Arctic Summers. I'm pretty sure it'll fit Kaisa, but it seems a little fragile compared to the rough and tumble clothes my daughter needs. I feel like if she's doing backflips off the garage roof onto the trampoline, then it might just pull the stitches out...

But if it fits her for one day and she rocks it, then momma's happy.

And know what else makes me happy? Remembering that I had previously (like three YEARS ago) purchased some already-shirred fabric from Wal-Mart and could just use THAT. Yay, Joy of all Joy's!

Maddie shirt

So, Maddie got a summer shirt. Because I had just a tiny bit left over from Maddie's shirt, I wanted to use the rest of it up. So I had to think for a second who my most Skinny-Minnie was, and lo and behold, its Brooky!


So Brooky got a summer dress too. I showed up at 11pm last night and put it on her, she ran through the house and wanted to go play outside with her "NEW DRESS!"

*I just added this one from last night! Happy Birthday Sim-MONEY!

And there you have it. A super adorable summer dress that I'd highly recommend if you're not just starting out in sewing. Unless of course you have mad skills in the sewing department and your elastic bobbin works well for you, then go for it. But buy the pattern from Made first, it'll make your life a heckuva lot easier!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This funny little law...

First let me teach you an Eskimo word. Kivit. (KIV-it) It mean's to pout, and pout HARD.


That's me. I'm kiviting right now. Instead of being out in a boat with my husband hunting the 150-200 beluga spotted off the sound, I'm at home blogging about the last time we caught beluga.


Why? Because of this funny little law stating that my non-native (read: WHITE) husband can not hunt marine mammals. Seals, Beluga, Bowhead, Walrus, none of it. He can't be in the boat to drive it, shoot at, or pretty much put a band-aid on me if I get a scope burn.


And that's really hard for him. I understand the reasoning behind it. But when you marry a native, this law should be null and void.

Hopefully my uncles will remember that one time I babysat for them so they could go out with their honey's and make more babies for me to babysit. And they'll get me one.


Yes, our town is all in a tizzy. Have you ever lived in a place where when you're standing in line at ACE hardware trying to pay for your fuel and your cousin comes in, rushes behind the counter, grabs two boxes of 7mm shells and yells at the cashier, "I'll come back and pay you!" And leaves? Cause I do.


I live in a place where we leave our doors unlocked, we keep the keys in our vehicles, and when someone comes into your home that you don't know, before asking who they are, you feed them something.


And hopefully I live in a place that when you marry a white guy, you shoot an extra beluga for your awesome niece who will PAY for your gas next time cause she's itching for some fresh white muktuk!

This was the cover shot in most Alaska Newspapers in July 2007

Cause man, if I don't live in a place like that, then my uncles won't live in a place where their niece babysits for free anymore, and where they have to buy their own groceries when they have to go hunting, rather than letting their awesome niece spend $250 for their weeks at fish camp!


*Oh, so my husband just came in from flying, and said that the beluga pod is over by cape blossom, near Riley Wreck, coming at us. (now don't forget about us!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

On drooling and horseshoes.

Today is Monday. I am one hurting fool. Yesterday I kinked my neck something fierce. Now I'm sort of a wussy and have to sit with my head all straight. And it sucks. But like other things, nothing's gonna stop me from enjoying this "summer solstice."


Summer Solstice is supposed to be the longest day of the year, but I live above the Arctic Circle. We're still having our "longest day of the year" and its been about a month. And it'll be about a month until the sun sets too. But happy summer solstice anyway.


And happy Father's Day too, belated of course. My husband just had the BEST Father's Day of his LIFE. Seriously, you guys don't even understand. Let me explain.


The kids woke up earlier then we did and employed the help of Jake, our live-in-teenager, to make him "breakfast in bed" of the eggs, potatoes and spicy reindeer sausage variety. Although I didn't let them bring it into MY bed, I did let them jump on him to wake him up. (I'm sort of obsessive-compulsive about crumbs in my bed!)


Maddie had made him a freezer-paper stencil of a Beaver on Floats that he'd flown before and put it onto a t-shirt for him while the rest of the kids gave him several 80's era movies. Oh, and an Atari. But not the real deal, just a plug-and-play, but still fun and nostalgic, especially for a perpetual 80's child.

grill baby grill

Then we packed up an entire carload with a table, watermelon, hot dogs, and chips, folding chairs, an axe and some horseshoes and headed off to meet the Swanson's for a picnic.


Even though we still have ice in the ocean, the kids brought their swimsuits and swam for four hours. Four hours in ice cold water. Hypothermia? Nah. They're tough and we don't have a pool so if you wanna swim, you're gonna swim in the ocean!

After a long day of grilling, roasting, eating, drinking, playing horseshoes, sitting in the sun and just plain relaxing, we bundled up the whole party BACK into the car and headed home. Nothing more than taking a shower and putting aloe on our shoulders and noses danced in our heads.

Then we got a call.


"Wait, what? Caribou? Where?"

"Up here ON THE ROAD."

Now, this might not seem like an emergency situation to you. But holy cow did it feel like one. As SOON as I said, "DEAN. CARIBOU." He went into freaking "hunter" mode and almost left us all behind. Maddie was still in the shower, Max was already putting pajamas on and Jake and I were sitting on the couch. I swear, its like watching someone on Speed!

max, bou and rifle

He grabbed Grandpa Max's .308, yelled at Little Max to "HURRY UP!" (he didn't quite know what to do.) I told Max to get some socks on, put real shoes on and get in the car NOW!

Rushing out the door, I grabbed some mosquito dope, the camera and my sunglasses and was quick on their tales.


During the car ride out there we were all smiles letting Max know what to do and what not to do. "Don't point the gun anywhere except toward the caribou." "Don't put your finger on the trigger until you're ready to shoot." "Make sure you breathe!"

dad hugs

Nervously, he said, "I hope the caribou are out there..." And they were. Four of them as a matter of fact. And our Maxie got his first caribou.


Here is the story in Max's words:

"Uhm, aana Fannie called and said she saw caribou on the tundra, then we drove out there. John Chase, he shot a cairbou, then they started running. Then we ran in the car, we drove ahead, and they ran behind this hill. Me and dad were up over the hill and they started running across the road. So we got off and dad said, 'Max, Max are you ready?'
He gave me the rifle, I was resting on dad's shoulder, you know the arm rest, or the stock thing, it goes on the shoulder, uhm, my shoulder wasn't on the stock it was over it. And when I shot my eye was right close to the scope, cause when I was trying to aim the crosshair was moving but not on purpose, but cause I was excited.

Then I shot, I got the scope burn and I got the caribou! So then my dad grabs the rifle from me, he shoots and misses. Then the caribou fell down dead. My dad turns around looks at me and then he sees there's blood all over my face and I'm crying. He asked what happened and then knew I got scope burn.
My dad's got one too, but mine is like right between my eyes, on the top of my nose. Then I couldn't stop talking and I stayed up until three am! From the time we shot it, we got all the insides out and brought it up, and then we cut it all up outside on the trailer then we went to bed, it was like three hours."


My husband's chest was busting out of his shirt, he was so proud. It was unbelievable. I even sacrificed my shins to walk down to the caribou in the tundra and take some better pictures.

proud dad

And even though Dean had to get up extra early this morning to fly to Kobuk, the pride and happiness in his heart allowed him to stay up late, get up early and get to Kobuk on time!

scope burn

Right now, Max is riding his bike around town to deliver meat to "elders." My aana told him that if he wanted to get more Caribou that he had to give the WHOLE thing away. And as we do follow Inupiaq tradition, I am sitting here, drooling because there is mounds and mounds of meat on my table...and I can't eat it!


Congratulations to Little Max. I think the hunting bug has bit you hard (right between the eyes)! Just like your daddy.